Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

"Every good painter paints what he is."
― Jackson Pollock

Sunset #24 | Butterfly Beach

Sunset 24 | Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger

Sunset 24 | Butterfly Beach

Original Painting, Butterfly Beach.  See How To Buy Art

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Fine Art Print, 30″ x 24″, Butterfly Beach.    See About Prints

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This is acrylic on gallery-wrap canvas, 30″ x 24″ x 1.5″. This is a view of Hendry’s Beach, in Santa Barbara, which actually faces south rather than west. This brings the sunset off the ocean and closer to the cliffs that extend at high tide out to the breaking surf.

Butterfly Beach, Sunset Series, painting by Spence Munsinger, in situ

ButterFly Beach

I took a series of almost-lost-light photographs as the sun dropped, looking for lens flare and silhouettes of people and dogs that might be interesting. This painting was from several different photographs.

photograph, Hendry's Beach below the Butterfly Preserve

photograph, Hendry’s Beach below the Butterfly Preserve

The process was to sketch in the masses from the photographs, then airbrush a bright primary undercoat to match the tones and basic colors, then layer acrylic paint over that…

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, airbrush process shot

Pastel sketch at start

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, airbrush process shot

Airbrush

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, initial color masses

Initial Color Masses

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, More Color

More color…

 

wolf kahn and color, rothko

 

I was searching for something about color and I ran across a statement in a forum, something like “if you want to see how to paints trees find a book by Wolf Kahn”. Further down in that newsgroup, someone else agreed that the was the path to follow.

I wasn’t researching trees, but I was curious – who? Wolf Kahn? Never heard of him. I looked for an example of his work and I was floored. His color work is just enlightening. Transcendent. Bright. Brilliant, and a little mad. His website is a microscopic flash presentation, done through his gallery. Despite that the images are extraordinary. I found a book of his work, ordered it, and when it arrived, I was struck by the evolution of this artist from the fifties through to his recent work. His color theory and the presence and tone of the colors used to create a warm feel or a cold feel, the evolution as you watch his work change and progress – a great colorist, hell, a great painter.

 

wolf kahn

 

The change over time in how Wolf Kahn approaches color and the origins of that sense of color and creation of abstraction shows me some methods of using color and of thinking about color that are very close to the conclusions I was reaching for already. And that is just very very cool. It jumpstarts the progression a couple of years or more for me forward.

Wolf Kahn is directly compared with the harmonies ( Sections of a Painting Like Passages in Music) of color in Mark Rothko’s painting. I had never connected with Rothko’s paintings – they didn’t click for me. Bring the color work from Kahn which works for me, subject and form and color, back from his ethereal landscapes to the simpler pure color work Rothko achieved and I see the genius I had not seen before. All of this is along the same path I was already following with color and form and perception of color.

marl rothko

Color as temperature, perception, emotional reaction alone, separate from form.

My first love in painting is color. Bright, brilliant color, color at the edge of what’s real. Stark raving color, actually. Color beyond the pale.

 

— spence

 

printmaking

I saw the MFA’s Alex Katz Prints exhibition April 25th. Alex Katz’s work reminded me intensely of Tom Wesselmann. Alex Katz was at Cooper Union 1945 to 1949. Tom Wesselmann was accepted at Cooper Union in 1956. They are roughly contemporary, Alex was born in 1927, Tom in 1931. Tom Wesselmann maintained bright color and pop art direction through to his passing in 2004. Alex Katz kept similar bright color and simplified form (at least in prints) but concentrated on literal interpretation of the human form.

wesselmann
alex_katz_1
wesselmann2
Alex Katz print #2

A lot of fun to see.

In the exhibit some of the prints were exhibited done through several different processes – screenprint next to woodcut, for example. I’m researching presses, screen and etching. If it were as simple as buying a press and trying it out that would be one thing. But I would want to print abstracted sunsets at 24″ x 30″ and that in a new etching press is 5500.00 and up. Not to mention you have to watch what these things weigh – some are “light” at 1250 lbs., a weight savings of half from a less weight-conscious press that comes in at 2650 lbs. Not the thing you throw casually into a second floor studio. Screen presses are easier in the press itself – I can likely build one that will accommodate 24″ x 30″ prints in four colors. I found a design which I can adapt at www.printingplans.com. Most of the for-sale presses for screen are t-shirt and fabric presses.

I also found an elegant solution already executed by Doug Forsythe at buildapress.com. This is very interesting. For a best guess expense of $1200 – $1700 I can likely build a press that would print 26″ x 32″ (my arbitrary dimensions). A press that I am finding would cost 5500.00 to 8500.00 new, and would be able to print exactly what I want to.

I think a simplified abstracted away yet again sunset could be very cool in handmade small editions. Not to mention just straight print art itself.

— spence

no thought

sunset #13 in progress

I was describing, out loud, the process of applying paint to canvas. In the process of working to explain it, I found some insights. I use photographs as a synthesis for an image, for the starting place for space in the painting, for color reference, to see what colors would be, where light moves, how it dances across surfaces and into shadow.

Looking at the quality of the light in the photographs, against the quality of the light in the memory I hold for the painting. The images come first from memory, triggered a photograph or a painting that reminds me of an emotion and from that a space in my mind. The photographs are a catalyst, a trigger for line and drawing and a reference for the image, but the image as it evolves loses any touch to those concrete images.

I do, actually dance in front of the canvas, that ecstatic feeling of weight and motion is very much a part of the process. Music, especially acoustic guitar recently, and the application of paint becomes no-thought.

There really is a point, and some of the best passages in a painting come from this, where I get to no-mind, no-thought, just an action of feeling mentally the surface I want to portray and contributing to a motion in the painting knife or brush or airbrush that is just there.

Fascinating stuff to me.

— spence

works In Progress

 

A painting is very different from a photograph. I’ve read artists complaining that the images of their work don’t impact in the same way as the original painting. Nature of the medium. A photograph is a different view of the work.

I take promotional and documentary photographs on film of pieces as I complete them. Film give a resolution that when scanned allows prints at actual size without stretching the image capture. The roll holds ten shots. Two paintings only use 6 to eight of those. I usually try and take In Progress shots of some of the other works as possible.

Sometimes this changes how I see the work – the urban/abandoned moscow #3 below – that is much closer to done than I had realized.

And Venice (Sunset #8) – a photograph of that shows me what I have, and several areas that don’t work as yet. But in some ways better than I had in mind.

Some artists seem to think that only the final product should ever be seen and HOW should remain a complete mystery – I think the decisions are more mysterious – ANY of the decision points could go any direction – different color, different texture, different feel for it – and those are the mysteries.

sunset #8

 

moscow #3

 

—spence

 

new work | Sunset #7 North County

 

sunset #7

 

—spence